Destination: California: Santa Barbara
San Ysidro Ranch
Santa Barbara and its upscale neighbor, Montecito, bill themselves as the American Riviera, and nowhere is that more true that at the area’s most renowned resort, San Ysidro Ranch. Originally part of a Spanish land grant, the 500-acre Ranch is now dotted with fourteen freestanding cottages and twenty-six attached suites. The bliss-inducing grounds, which offer sweeping views from the Santa Ynez foothills to the Pacific Ocean, are full of birdsong and the scents of orange blossoms, rosemary, and eucalyptus. Not surprisingly, San Ysidro Ranch has witnessed (discreetly of course) plenty of romantic encounters, including the marriage of Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, the honeymoon of Jack and Jackie Kennedy, and uncounted rendezvous of other couples, some of whom were married to each other.
The big news here is a $150 million renovation, with the final touches being applied this June. Everything from the gardens to the cottages and suites has been totally made over. Even the olive trees were hand-selected by owner Ty Warner. Our cottage, Pine, had been moved up the hill and rebuilt from the studs. Inside, there was a New England-meets-California feel, with beamed ceilings, white beaded paneling on the walls, and brick fireplaces in both the living room and bedroom. Bathrooms are sumptuous, the highlight being an outdoor rain shower in a private courtyard that also housed a hot tub and two chaise longues. At 1,200 square feet, it was average by San Ysidro standards. The overall effect, though, was to want to move in permanently. Good thing, too, since both breakfast and lunch are currently available only via room service. The formal Stonehouse restaurant and more casual Plow & Angel pub share a market-fresh dinner menu augmented by a few holdover classics such as mac-and-cheese. Try ordering that on the French Riviera. Rooms from $795.
Who Should (and Should Not) Go: You might expect couples-only at this legendary hideaway, but people do bring their kids. We even saw a multi-generation family splashing in the heated pool.
Ideal Length of Stay: Three days ought to be enough to recharge even the most exhausted battery. Midweek would be perfect for lovers—quieter and likely kid-free.
Rooms to Get: The freestanding cottages on the east side of the property, bordering San Ysidro Creek, are especially quiet and private. Book Eucalyptus and the loudest noise will be the natural waterfall behind the patio. Junior suites start at $795 per night.
Indagare Tip: Dogs are not only welcomed but embraced—the spa staff will even give Fido a rubdown while you’re getting your Nirvana massage.
Read an Indagare member’s postcard on San Ysidro Ranch.
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